I'm happy to report that we found serenity at Tri Trang Beach this afternoon! Away from the madness of downtown Patong lies a tranquil beach where Kong, the gibbon, resides; water is clear; mangrove trees line...It was beautiful. Since this has become the record for my travels here, I'll backtrack to our last day in Bangkok...
Our flight to Phuket didn't leave until 9p.m., so we left our bags with the hotel concierge and trekked through streets, looking for Chinatown. The oppressive heat lead to our jumping in a taxi, where we landed smack in the middle of the city. It was so dense, so polluted, so loud, so hot. It felt like Asia...everything I'd imagined it to be. It was San Francisco Chinatown times 100. We were away from most touristed sites and immersed in the Chinese-Thai culture. Alleyways full of locals: amidst monks; bootleggers and schoolchildren walking through the narrow streets. Shark fins were the best selling commodity (illegal, I think); signs that read 'brainpower' in several storefronts; massage parlors and industrial goods being sold everywhere. We were out of our comfort zone, but drawn to the vibrancy of the people, the smells, and the chaos. After a couple of hours & another delicious meal (snow pea shoots, crab legs, spring rolls), we found a foot massage shop: 150 baht for an hour. Another of the best $5. I've ever spent!
We continued to a few temples. Some were under construction and not being frequented by the masses. We sat in a hollow temple-ornate on the exterior, but simple inside..took our shoes off and sat for a few minutes. The spiritual energy eminated from the walls and despite the sweater I had thrown over my dress, making my body heat rise to immense proportions, I found a moment of peace. I thought of my Dad as I walked away. I imagined him studying a temple here and spending his time in Bangkok returning to it each day-praying, understanding its' history, finding the present moment...If you could stand the heat & pollution, it would be easy to spend a long time here. But, with that, I walked away and back into the hustle of the Bangkok streets. We only had a few hours left and needed to return to our hotel.
The transfer was seamless. We ate at a food cart across from the hotel-sauteed vegetables and rice, and took a taxi to the airport. We arrived quickly, on account of our driver who exceed expectations of the wildest cabbie in New York City. We landed in at about . and drove through the debaucherous downtown Patong. Later that night we visted the crazy streets, but decided we never needed to head back!
This morning was a late one, being that we woke up at 11a.m. Our 'villa' is fantastic, with a view of the Bay, an infinty pool, and anything else we'd ever need. The only problem is that the tuk tuk & taxi drivers are hesitant to navigate down the steep road to our front door. (Of course, they can be persuaded by a few extra baht.) Today we squared away plans for tomorrow's journey to Phi Phi Island and made our way to Tri Tran Beach. I hung out with Kong, the resident gibbon and relaxed on the beach. We ate dinner oceanside and returned early-ish, so that we'd be ready for our boat ride tomorrow morning. Our car arrives at 7:30 a.m. Elisa & Sam will scuba dive & I'll snorkel. We'll pass limestone formations and cruise through the to the .
Now, it's time for bed on my side of the world.
Love & Miss you,
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Posted by Elisa Kwon at 6:10 PM
Sawadee(hello) from the plane en route to Phuket. We’re on a no frills airlines called Air Asia that is very similar to Jet Blue. Funny, they are selling a whole range of goods including the requisite food and beverage as well as unusual items such as simm cards and toys.
In retrospect, I could have explored Bangkok a bit more. A good sentiment given that I’ll be returning in six days. However, I’m already ready for a change of scenery that Phuket will provide. Although I’m very much a city person, I like being outdoors. I’m looking forward to a beach day, scuba diving at Phi Phi, and exploring some other islands on a sailboat. My new friend Varun owns the boat Jabuticaba so we may go on Saturday. I’d also like to see the Old Town and the Big Buddha. I have a friend from Hong Kong who is taking a month long yoga teacher class in Koh Samui, further north, but I’m not sure that I’ll have time to visit him. I need to be back in Bangkok by February 24 to start my adventure travel tour to northern Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam.
Stephanie has been an excellent travel companion and we are having a great time. We’ve traveled locally in California together and had many sleepovers at our respective homes in SF and NY but in the seventeen years that we’ve been close friends, this is our first trip together. We’ve made working out, cultural sites, food, fun, spa treatments, and general openness as our approach and priorities for this trip. We are constantly laughing at others and at ourselves.
Jetlag has only an issue later in the evening. I find myself tired around 11pm and then wide awake at 5:30am. I woke up at 6am yesterday morning. Instead of forcing myself to sleep, I went downstairs to Business center to send emails and upload photos to Facebook. We had a good run at the gym but consequently, we were too tired to go out after drinks at Lebua. A friend had recommended Sirocco at Lebua State Tower and the view did not disappoint.
I’ve been averaging about one massage a day. We had the best and cheapest massage of of trip in Chinatown this afternoon-- $5 for an hour plus tip! Lunch nearby was very good. We started with sautéed pea shoots, a delicious garlic and black pepper crab claw dish and spring rolls. We tried a beer called Tiger Beer that I had not tried before. We found the wholesale district and Steph had a very successful day shopping. I purchased my first item of the trip, a Buddha made of tiger eye.
The food has been excellent and relatively inexpensive. We ate a very healthy vegetables and rice dish for two for $4 this evening. We’ve been looking at outdoor stalls that have fresh food and are busy. Pointing to other people’s dishes is the most effective method of getting what we want. I wish I could speak the language. The only words we know are hello(wich also means bye) and thank you(goes a long way in any language). We’ve tried the other words but totally massacring them! Thai is a tough language.
The flight from Bangkok to Phuket is only one hour and ten minutes. Sam’s place in Patong Beach is only 45 minutes away. Almost landing, time to turn off the computer…
Sawadee-ka everyone! We arrived in Phuket, but as expected the internet is spotty. So, a quick update...The island is not what I expected. It feels a little like we're on the edge of the world. As we drove through town last night, I witnessed a shockingly busy, crowded, loud, bright, colorful scene. There were massive amounts of tourists walking the streets, dancing in bars, meeting 'lady boys'. It was a much wilder scene that anything we experienced in Bangkok. Our house is beautiful, nestled on top of a hill that overlooks the Andaman coastline. We are going to explore a quieter, more peaceful part of the island that lies a bit south. Tomorrow, Elisa & her friend, Sam will go scuba diving. I think I'll snorkel and spend time in our pool...and yes, I'm wearing my sunscreen.
Write more later..